I have done all that I can to ensure that my kids will never have to choose between having a relationship with their father and his partner whom they both love, and being involved in the church that their mother loves.
Now, because my boys live with me part time, they are excluded from membership in the church unless they receive approval from the First Presidency. Iâ€™m really hurting. Just when I thought that I had found a way to live with tolerance toward the church theyâ€™ve come out and attacked my family in a very personal way.
Of all the cruel and vindictive things the church has done to him and these (now teenaged) children, this move sets a tragic new standard. They have already had to grow up with their mother telling them constantly that their father is a demented faggot who will burn in hell. But they weren’t barred from every important ritual before. Every child of these “fix the gay” marriages -which are essentially doomed to failure- AND WHICH THE CHURCH ACTIVELY ENCOURAGED, has and will be publicly shamed, set apart from their peers, and treated as beyond the reach of God.
My children are directly effected by this new policy. Though half of them have already left the LDS Church, our four younger children are still taken to church by their mother, and I have an adult son who remains active in the Church. If that son decides to go on a mission, he will now – in the language of the new policy – need to “specifically disavow the practice of same-gender cohabitation and marriage,” and his request to serve will then have to be approved by the First Presidency of the Church. In other words, he will have to denounce me and my husband Mark and will be stigmatized, not because of his own actions, but because of mine.
I have two beautiful children. Their father, who I married in the temple, is gay. We are no longer married. I have remained faithful. Fulfilled callings, attend regularly, we read scriptures and have fheâ€¦they have both been baptized already, but this, this right here will be the breaking point. I cannot, will not ask them to choose between the church and their father. I will not ask them to â€œdisavowâ€ him in order to stay in a church that doesnâ€™t want them.
But why? Well…
The wonderful truth of our church is that Heavenly Father has a plan for all of us. And in this case, that plan involves wielding the children of same-sex marriages as a pressure point to attempt to dislodge and shatter these marriages and families.
In other words, from Steve Bloor:
Yet the power to punish innocent children, or withhold â€œblessingsâ€ from them, seems entirely gratuitous on the surface. This policy, however, is not about punishing children. It is about exploiting children. Yes, exploiting. As in, using children as a means to an end. As in, using children as leverage to control the parents, and extended families, and the courts of the Intermountain West of the United States.
Which leads to a really interesting question by Dad’s Primal Scream:
Can I use this as evidence in court that my childâ€™s participation in church is an act of alienating them from me?
Plus, the policy seems to have a bit of a consistency problem:
Barryâ€™s half-sibling Shannon (who does not have a homosexual parent and is a baptized member) is also very excited at this new development. â€œWhile I have been freely supporting gay marriage on social media since March when church apostle D. Todd Christofferson said that Mormons who support gay marriage are not in danger of losing their temple privileges or church memberships, I think that itâ€™s totally fair that Barry is required to completely disavow the practice,â€ said Shannon. â€œI will be watching his Facebook posts very carefully after his baptism to ensure that unlike me he does not show any support for his fatherâ€™s choices.â€
And it’s a problem for the members that they’re expected to sustain anything that comes out of headquarters — without being able to predict what it will be next. Some aren’t happy about it. From Christine:
Honestly, I feel like the church is bringing persecution to us. Just shut up about it. Just stop. No person and no organization is going to change gay marriage. Please stop putting a target on my back and making me have to answer for this.
Additional thoughts include the parallels with the treatment of polygamy, Mormon Monopoly on Jesus, what would Jesus do, what about punishing people for their own sins?, looking on the bright side, the church should grow up, and what the children will learn from this.
Pope Francis continues to urge Catholic priests not to block gay couples from having their children baptized. Speaking last Sunday during an ordination mass in the Vatican, Francis reminded that priests should not refuse baptism to anyone who asks for the sacrament. The pontiff told the priests: â€œWith baptism, you unite the new faithful to the people of God. It is never necessary to refuse baptism to someone who asks for it.â€
On the lighter side, this inspired memes, including getting punished for Adam and Steve’s transgression and whether Jesus wants you for a sunbeam. In satire: “Morally Bankrupt LDS Church Acts on Anti-Same-Sex Thoughts.” The Expert Textperts have some great tips for how to cope — I’ve been using #6 myself.
On the other side of the story, ever since the policy was leaked (from the text of a restricted handbook), the faithful have scrambled to explain how misguided you are to think this is bad. They can’t seem to stop making it worse. (Why bring Bill Nye into this?) For example:
Myth #4 Requires Children to Reject Parents […] They do not need to say anything about their parents. This is the same standard expected of every convert who has a parent that still smokes when to be baptized they must specifically agree to the word of wisdom. Children in this situation must simply recognize the Churchâ€™s teachings on sin.
Why won’t people understand that the just have to say something about their parents’ marriage….? (Specifically that it’s not a marriage, hence that their family isn’t a family, and, potentially, that a beloved step-parent isn’t really a parent. S/he’s just your mom or dad’s stinky bad habit.)
The main excuse seems to involve protecting kids from mixed-messages — which seems to mean protecting them from the trauma of getting told at church that their families aren’t real families. Otherwise, taken at face value, their argument doesn’t make a whole lot of sense:
Where is the outcry for child protection in families where one parent is an atheist, or from another religion, or an alcoholic, or abusive etc. You can go on and on with the thousands of “conflicting” scenarios current LDS children already exist and learn to live in. If the LDS church trusts those families, children and adults to figure out what works for them, why step in where children of LGBT families are concerned?
My parents let me drink alcohol from the age of likeâ€¦ 12. They were not religious at all. They regularly told me reasons the church was bad. They also encouraged â€œhaving sex with enough people to figure out who youâ€™re compatible withâ€, and only one of them gave me permission to get baptized. That was good enough for the church, who are absolutely fine with kids leaving the majority of their parentsâ€™ religions, lifestyles, and beliefs in order to join the church. There are endless other scenarios where a child is taught differently at home than at church.
Perhaps the most grotesquely callous of the “Myths” was “Myth #7 This Hurts Me Personally” — willfully ignoring an outpouring of stories of people who really are hurt by the policy, including the possibility of suicide. Natasha Helfer Parker has asked people to distribute the information about mental health resources to those who might be needing them right now.
Its obvious to everyone what would happen if we let gay families be part of Mormon congregations: they would look like normal, happy, healthy Mormon families, they would talk like normal, happy, healthy Mormon families, they would serve and love and mourn and give their lives to the church like all the other normal, happy, healthy Mormon families.
In other words, they would be happy, healthy Mormon families and people would stop caring altogether that they were gay. They would pass the Turing test. So we canâ€™t let them take the test.
This policy change stinks to high heaven because the policy transparently acknowledges that this is the case.
My apologies to anyone who wrote on any other subject this past week. I’ll try to include you in next week’s SiOB. This topic was just too explosive to share with any other. My thoughts are with everyone affected by this policy today.